PORTAGE | A joint federal review of the regional transportation planning process in Northwestern Indiana has found that it not only complies with federal requirements, but serves as a model of best planning practices.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued its Certification Review Final Report of how the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC), the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), Gary Public Transportation Corporation (GPTC), and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) implement the federal transportation planning process.
NIRPC received four commendations in the report:
• Receiving the American Planning Association’s 2013 Daniel Burnham Award for its 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP). The FTA and FHWA further stated the CRP “serves as a model for other Metropolitan Planning Organizations in conducting scenario planning in addition to coordinating land use and transportation.”
• Its collaborative planning efforts that have led to construction of recreation trails in addition to integration of bicycle and pedestrian elements into roadway projects.
• Its Environmental Justice analysis in the 2040 CRP, finding that “the methodology comparing accessibility and travel times to determine disproportionate benefits and burdens on protected populations is exemplary and a model for other Metropolitan Planning Organizations.”
• Its efforts to work cooperatively with both INDOT and FHWA to better understand Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The report states NIRPC “has demonstrated a commitment to improving the current status of ADA compliance in the region.”
The report also includes a variety of useful recommendations for further refinement and improvement in the planning process that is led by NIRPC in cooperation with INDOT and the public transit providers. In addition, the report issues a corrective action regarding NIRPC’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) architecture, which will employ a variety of technologies to monitor, evaluate, and manage transportation systems to enhance efficiency and safety. “Given the amount of truck traffic and overall congestion in the region, an effective ITS would serve the area well,” says NIRPC Deputy Director and Director of Planning, Steve Strains. “Many stakeholders will be asked to be involved in updating the ITS during 2014 for the overall transportation system as well as for individual projects.”
The FHWA/FTA Certification Review Final Report can be found on NIRPC’s website at http://www.nirpc.org/media/32629/nirpc_2013_certification_review_fhwa_fta_transmittal_letter_and_final_report.pdf.
NIRPC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization and regional council of local governments for the three counties of Northwest Indiana. NIRPC provides the forum for local elected officials, regional leadership, and citizens to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment and community and economic development. NIRPC seeks to develop consensus solutions with the broadest participation.